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January 14, 2004

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This is somewhat amusing in the larger context when one considers the long history of WIPO. What I find interesting is that ICANN's functions still haven't been folded into the TRIPS sections of the GATT (ie. the WTO's TRIPS agreement requires compliance with the Paris/Berne treaties that make up the core of WIPO). Given that part of the original aim of TRIPS was to wrest IP ddecision making control away from the developing countries, I'm surprised that nobody has tried to argue a case like this via the WTO Disputes Settlement Board.

I'll have to go back to reading Paris/Berne again again to see. In all honesty, I'm mildly amused that WIPO still has any teeth.

I'm surprised that nobody has tried to argue a case like this via the WTO Disputes Settlement Board.

The Tatas case made quite a splash in IP circles when it came out -- it was one of those cases that got passed around. It's been a couple years, however, since I even attempted to understand the ICANN arbitration rules and/or WIPO's role in administering the same. I know there have been some efforts to change the arbitration procedures, and people constantly float ideas to change/eliminate/expand/dominate WIPO.

Dang. I was so hoping I could find someone infringeing on this company's IP.

As you say, English is not the language of a lot of WIPO members, and even more of people that may access the internet. It is unusual only in the mesure that up till now English language was the norm, but it is now reducing its preeminence as more countries get the needed infrastructure. To the billion of Indians, asking a searcher for TATA is more likely implying the Indian company, and the alternative is akin to spam.

http://www.glreach.com/globstats/
DSW

Mr. Jaume, you make a good point. Because the internet is an international environment, there are going to be more opportunities for comedic misadventures like the Tatas case.

Serious questions, however, need to be settled: If a domain name is confusing in one language but not another, is that sufficient? And who's the standard for the likelihood of confusion? The native speaker of English? Someone who knows only a little English? The former may have no trouble seeing the difference between the domain names Tatas and Bodacious-tatas; the latter may not.

Tata in India stands for more than just a "utility." It's the country's largest corporation. Every third vehicle or so on the roads has "Tata" prominently written across the grille, the way "Ford" would be here. Most high-speed internet there is Tata. So is most tea. To hundreds of millions of English speakers, myself included, my first association of the word would, in fact, be the company, and I've only spent some weeks in the country.

There's a lot more "native speakers of English" in South Asia than there are in the United States, my friend. The WIPO decision seems have to have gone with what the largest number of anglophones worldwide would agree with. If that leaves Americans out for a change, well, tough.

To hundreds of millions of English speakers, myself included, my first association of the word would, in fact, be the company, and I've only spent some weeks in the country.

Bruce R, are you seriously suggesting that you would be confused into believing that a website named "bodacious-tatas.com" would be confused with the Tatas company?

As for the rest of the world: Tatas is a very large Indian company, but it's not at all well known outside the subcontinent.

There's a lot more "native speakers of English" in South Asia than there are in the United States, my friend.

Friend, re-read that sentence and tell me if you truly believe it.

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